The Gallup polling group says the percentage of Americans without health insurance continued to fall in the first quarter of 2014, to nearly 16 percent compared to just over 17 percent at the end of 2013.
It is the lowest quarterly level that Gallup has measured since 2008, and health-reform supporters are sure to tout Obamacare as the main catalyst, although the new health care law does require people to hold insurance this year.
“This drop could be a result of the ACA, which aims to provide healthcare coverage to more Americans through multiple provisions, including federal and state healthcare marketplaces where Americans can purchase health insurance coverage at competitive rates,” Gallup said.
The uninsured rate hit an all-time high of 18 percent in the third quarter of 2013, dropping to a 16.2 percent reading in January and 15.6 percent in February.
The rate among Americans with a household income of less than $36,000 per year dropped the most, by 2.8 percent, while those aged 65 and older were the only age group to remain stable — likely because most in that group hold Medicare.
The percentage of Americans who get insurance through a current or former employer fell almost two points, to 43.4 percent.
The Obama administration will likely report new enrollment data for Obamacare in the coming days, but so far it has said 4 million Americans signed up for private coverage in the new marketplace.
“With the open enrollment period scheduled to close on March 31, the uninsured rate in the U.S. will likely continue to fall,” Gallup said.
“Additionally, healthcare aides in the Obama administration announced on Wednesday that Americans will be able to renew old health insurance plans for up to three years, even if the plans do not comply with ACA policies,” it added. “Other provisions of the healthcare law have not yet gone into effect, such as the requirement for employers to provide health insurance to their employees by 2015 or 2016. These provisions also may affect the uninsured rate over time.”